Tag Archives: Zucchini

Cheesy Baked Pasta w/ Sausage & Summer Veggies

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies

Ah, it’s almost the end of Summer and I keep thinking, where has it gone? Along with Summer comes lots of fresh veggies like zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms and yellow squash that I just can’t get enough of!

Colavita

I recently received a lovely care package from my client Colavita, who sent me some delicious pasta, sauces, olive oils and vinegars to sample, which inspired me to make this Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies. 

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies

It’s a tasty and healthy twist on traditional Baked Ziti, using Colavita Fusilli pasta with sweet Italian sausage and lots of colorful summer veggies like zucchini, squash, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions and garlic. I sautéed everything in Colavita Extra Virgin olive oil with a splash of Colavita Chardonnay White Balsamic vinegar for some extra sweet and tangy flavor.

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies

I used their Colavita Tomato Basil sauce mixed in to the pasta and veggies along with fresh oregano and basil. AND it has three (3!!) cheeses: ricotta, parmesan/asiago and mozzarella to make it super creamy and cheesy – all baked into a big pot of bubbly goodness.

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies

Look. At. This. Cheesy Baked Pasta Goodness. YUM.

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies

It’s the perfect dish for a quick and healthy weeknight dinner – and is great served with a green salad and some crusty Italian bread (dipped in Colavita olive oil and vinegar of course!) Enjoy!

Cheesy Baked Pasta w/ Sausage and Summer Veggies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6-8

This is a tasty and healthy twist on traditional Baked Ziti, using Colavita Rotini pasta with Italian Sausage and lots of colorful summer veggies like zucchini, squash, mushrooms, onions and garlic! It also features Colavita Tomato Basil sauce mixed with three cheeses: ricotta, parmesan/asiago and mozzarella to make it super creamy and cheesy baked into a big pot of bubbly goodness. Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner served with a green salad and crusty Italian bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Colavita Fusilli pasta, uncooked
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, ground
  • 2 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Colavita Chardonnay White Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-16 ounce jar Colavita Tomato Basil sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan/Asiago cheese, grated
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (add more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (add more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions (about 9 minutes for al dente), drain.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Cook sausage until no longer pink, drain fat and set aside.
  4. Add additional tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and add squash, zucchini, mushrooms and bell pepper. Saute for 5-7 minutes until soft. Add minced garlic and balsamic vinegar and cook for another minute or two. Add the cooked sausage back into the pan.
  5. Stir in the tomato sauce, 1/2 cup of mozzarella and 1/2 cup of Parmesan/Asiago cheese and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes until cheese is melted.
  6. Meanwhile, add the ricotta cheese to a mixing bowl and stir in beaten egg, fresh herbs, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
  7. Place the cooked pasta in a large pot and add the sausage-veggie-tomato sauce mixture, stirring well. Fold in the ricotta-egg-herbs mixture until thoroughly combined.
  8. Spoon the pasta mixture into an 8x8 square glass or ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan/Asiago cheese evenly over the top.
  9. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and browned.
  10. Let cool for a few minutes, serve hot with a green salad and crusty Italian bread.

Notes

You can also substitute Colavita penne, shells, farfalle or ziti for the fusilli pasta.

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Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Summer Veggies

Colavita has a great line of Italian gourmet food, olive oils, vinegars, pastas,  condiments and other specialty foods, which makes them one of my favorite brands for quality Italian cooking.

Check out their Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest and Instagram pages for more great recipes and cooking ideas!

Note: I received complimentary products from Colavita but was not compensated for this post. All photos, copy, recipes and opinions are my own. Please do not share, distribute or use any content without my permission.

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Red Beef Curry with Zucchini Noodles

Red Beef Curry

The New Year has arrived, and it’s time to start anew. I like to kick bad habits and start new resolutions, such as exercising more, dropping a few pounds, cleaning house, and of course eating healthier and lighter.

Zucchini Noodles Action

I recently got the new KitchenAid® Spiralizer Attachment to go along with my KitchenAid® Stand Mixer and am so excited to experiment with it to make some healthier low-carb meals! It comes with five different blades for peeling, coring and slicing and is perfect for fresh fruits and vegetables. I love pasta and rice, but spiralized veggies are such a great substitute when I want to lighten up my recipes.

Prepped Ingredients

Because we are in the middle of winter, I thought a delicious comfort food dish with a healthy twist would be perfect. I made an amazing Red Beef Curry with Zucchini Noodles, with stewed beef, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and green beans in a lovely curry sauce made with coconut milk, red curry paste, fresh lime juice, fish sauce, a little beef broth and a dash of Sriracha.

Red Beef Curry

Super delicious and easy to make!

Cutlery and Veggies

I also got an amazing new Professional Series 3.5″ Paring Knife that came with my larger set, perfect for chopping my onions and garlic. and Thai chilies and basil, which I used for garnish. The larger Chef’s knife was great for cutting up the large chunks of beef, and sweet potatoes with it’s sturdier grip and large super sharp blade.

Red Beef Curry

This is such a great Winter comfort food dish to make and it’s so easy with all the right tools! You’ll definitely want to make this Red Beef Curry for dinner – tonight!

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE RECIPE AND STEP BY STEP VISUALS ON THE KITCHENTHUSIAST BLOG!

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Zucchini & Sweet Potato Pancakes w/ Homemade Apple Sauce

Zucchini Sweet Potato Pancakes

Now that the fall season has finally arrived, it’s time to start cooking with seasonal ingredients that are richer in color and warmer in flavor. One of my favorite dishes to make in the fall are Potato Pancakes, served with applesauce and sour cream, just like my Grandma used to make.

KitchenAid Juicer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recently got a KitchenAid® Juicer and Sauce Attachment for my Stand Mixer and decided to do a twist on this traditional family recipe by making Homemade Applesauce and making the pancakes out of zucchini and sweet potatoes to add some healthy color and fall flavors to the dish. I used my KitchenAid® Stainless Steel 3-Quart Saucepan, which was perfect for cooking the applesauce in, and a fantastic KitchenAid® Copper Core 12″ Nonstick Skillet, great for cooking the pancakes with it’s large base and even, quick heat distribution.

Homemade Apple Sauce

Homemade Apple Sauce

Zucchini Sweet Potato Pancakes

Zucchini and Sweet Potato Pancakes with Cinnamon Sour Cream

Healthy, delicious and super easy to make!

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL RECIPE ON THE KITCHENAID BLOG

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Shrimp, Basil & Corn Zucchini Noodles w/ Meyer Lemon Cream Sauce

Zucchini Noodles 1

Hello Summer! And hello to the season for lighter food and flavors and quality time at the beach and the pool (READ: also time for shorts and sundresses and to lose a few to fit into the bathing suit!)

Zucchini Noodles 10

I’ve been craving pasta lately because i’ve been cutting down on carbs a bit, but I’ve had this cool Veggetti noodle tool in my pantry for a few months and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to make some Zucchini Noodles (AKA “zoodles”), and tie in some fresh ingredients from the season such as shrimp and corn and basil.

Zucchini Noodles 8

This dish screams creamy comfort food, but is balanced out with a clean, citrus-y brightness with a Meyer Lemon cream sauce made with mascarpone cheese, Meyer lemon juice and zest, lemongrass chicken broth, white wine, sweet basil olive oil and garlic. The lightness of these zucchini noodles are also totally amazing, rather than a heavy pasta that will put you to sleep in .02 seconds.

Zucchini Noodles 3

I love Meyer lemons because they are delicate and less sour than regular lemons and almost mimic the flavor of lemon and orange juice mixed together, which you can absolutely do if you can’t find Meyer lemons or they aren’t in season. I ordered mine on Fresh Direct which always has everything in stock and delivers on top of that!

Zucchini Noodles

Prep your zucchini noodles with a Veggetti or Spiralizer on a cutting board or over a large mixing bowl. I suggest squeezing out any excess water from them before sauteing (you can let them sit in a colander to extract water for about 15 minutes or so). You might also want to cut the strand piles in half to make them easier to manage and eat. Sauté the noodles in some olive oil with red pepper flakes and garlic for a few minutes and set aside.

LemonZest-Juice

Zest and juice one Meyer lemon to add to the cream sauce. Look at that vivid color! LOVE.

Prep Shrimp

Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the shrimp and sauté in some olive oil for couple minutes until they are pink and set aside. Don’t overcook them though because you will add them back in to the sauce later on and you don’t want tough rubbery shrimp.

Lemon Sauce Ingredients

Prep ingredients for the Meyer Lemon Cream sauce and add the white wine, chicken broth, Meyer lemon juice and zest to the saute pan with leftover juices from the shrimp. Stir and simmer over medium heat for until the liquid reduces by half.

Meyer Lemon Sauce

Add the corn, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes until heated through. I used frozen sweet corn but you can use fresh corn too which might take a little longer to cook (or you can precook the fresh corn and add the kernels into the sauce).

Add Mascarpone, Shrimp and Basil

Stir in the mascarpone cheese and blend together until it turns into a gorgeous, silky and creamy sauce. Toss in the shrimp and basil. Isn’t that pretty?

Zucchini Noodles 6

Serve over the zucchini noodles with additional basil and lemon zest and get ready to DEVOUR.

Zucchini Noodles 7

Alternatively you can toss the zucchini noodles in to the pan with the sauce and shrimp and corn and mix it all together to serve as a one pot dish. I prefer keeping the noodles separate from the sauce so they don’t get too mushy, personally.

Zucchini Noodles 5

Garnish with some extra basil and lemon zest and serve with a glass of white wine (I particularly like McBride Sisters Truvee Chardonnay who were kind enough to send me a sample which I LOVED), and some crusty bread to mop up that yum sauce, if you wish. Light, bright, healthy and delicious!

Shrimp, Basil & Corn Zucchini Noodles w/ Meyer Lemon Cream Sauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

Serving Size: 1 cup of noodles with sauce

This is a super healthy and totally delicious low carb option to pasta. It features sautéed zucchini noodles smothered in a Meyer Lemon cream sauce with shrimp, corn and fresh basil. It's light and bright and the perfect dish for Summer with a glass of white wine and some toasty bread to mop up the sauce.

Delicious!!

Ingredients

  • Zucchini Noodles:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (7 Barrels Basil olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Shrimp:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Garlic salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Meyer Lemon Cream Sauce:
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Zest and juice of 1 Meyer Lemon
  • 1/2 cup white wine (Truvee Chardonnay)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (Pacific Foods Lemongrass Bone Both)
  • 2/3 cup Mascarpone cheese
  • 3/4 cup sweet corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Fresh Basil, for garnish
  • Additional lemon zest, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Make the Zucchini Noodles:
  2. Using a Veggeti or Spiralizer vegetable cutter, cut both zucchini into medium large noodles over a cutting board or large bowl.
  3. Form the vegetable pasta into two piles and cut each in half to create shorter, easy to manage strands.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat and sauté the garlic for a minute or so, being careful not to burn.
  5. Add the zucchini noodles, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes to your desired consistency.
  6. Remove noodles from the heat into a medium bowl and set aside while you cook the shrimp.
  7. Prepare the Shrimp:
  8. In the same sauce pan, heat another tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
  9. Sprinkle some garlic salt and pepper on to the shrimp, and add shrimp to the pan cooking for about 3 minutes, stirring often so they cook evenly.
  10. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and transfer to a small bowl while you make the Meyer Lemon cream sauce.
  11. Meyer Lemon Cream Sauce:
  12. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in the same large sauce pan over medium heat.
  13. Add the additional garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.
  14. Add the lemon juice, zest, chicken broth and wine and let simmer down until reduced, about 3 minutes.
  15. Add the corn kernels, salt and pepper and heat through another minute or two, then stir in the Mascarpone cheese until you get a silky, creamy sauce.
  16. Add the cooked shrimp, zucchini noodles and basil; toss to coat. (You can also keep the zucchini noodles separate from the shrimp, corn and basil with Meyer Lemon sauce and spoon it over the noodles in bowls which keeps the noodles from getting mushy in the sauce which is how i prefer serving them.)
  17. Serve with additional basil and lemon zest, and a glass of Chardonnay or dry Italian wine and some crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

Notes

This would also be a delicious sauce over any pasta, and if you're a vegetarian you could substitute the shrimp for another vegetable or legumes for some protein. If you can't find Meyer lemons or they aren't in season, simply mix some orange juice into the lemon juice to give it a similar flavor.

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Zucchini Noodles with Shrimp, Basil and Corn in Meyer Lemon Cream SauceZucchini Noodles 9

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Other similar recipes you might enjoy:

Shrimp Scampi Pasta

Shrimp and Zucchini with Tomatoes 

Basil Shrimp Zucchini Pasta

Shrimp and Zucchini Risotto

Fettuccine with Shrimp and Zucchini

Note: I received a sample of McBride Sisters Truvee Chardonnay for tasting which inspired me to create this recipe and share with my readers. All opinions of the product are my own and I was not compensated for this post.

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Summer Veggie Frittata + Time to Relax.

Summer Veggie Frittata

Summer is that time of year when we get to take some time off from our crazy busy lives, at least for a little while, to clear our heads, visit with friends and family, go to the beach, have a backyard cookout, or simply lie in a hammock and read a book or take a good, long nap.

Summer Veggie Frittata

It’s also a time when i tend to get a little lazy because it’s so hot outside. Or because I actually have some time on my hands to just, well do nothing. Or sleep in a little longer.

Summer Veggie Frittata 5

Because I’m constantly cooking as a profession, the last thing I feel like doing on vacation is well, cooking. Even though I get to stay at my parent’s house with a huge kitchen and backyard patio that actually has a grill and some room to move. And I always have all these big plans to make all this delicious food when I’m here but really just want to do – well, not much. You know – relax a little bit. 🙂

Summer Veggie Frittata 3

I decided to make something easy for breakfast today. And healthy. All in one big pan. A Summer Veggie Frittata that’s full of spinach and onions and fresh zucchini with some shredded cheese that’s lovely and light and just tasty and good all around. Yes, I threw in a tablespoon or two of cooked bacon because I just can’t help myself but if you’re a vegetarian feel free to leave it out.

Summer Veggie Frittata 4

I think I could get used to these lazy Summer vacation days. Don’t you agree?

Summer Veggie Frittata

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4-6

Serving Size: 1 wedge

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons light cream or half and half
  • 1 teaspoon dill seasoning
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1-2 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 package frozen spinach, defrosted and drained well (or 2 cups fresh spinach leaves)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (Jack, Cheddar, Mozzarella)
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Meanwhile, combine cream, eggs, salt, pepper, cooked bacon and seasonings in a mixing bowl, whisking well.
  3. Heat a medium-large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add oil or butter to the pan and saute onions for a few minutes until soft and translucent.
  4. Add spinach and cook for a few more minutes until heated through (or wilted if using fresh spinach).
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until eggs are slightly set.
  6. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the top evenly.
  7. Top the frittata with the zucchini slices over the egg and cheese mixture.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and place in the oven.
  9. Broil for about 3-5 minutes until the top is lightly browned and cheese is melted.
  10. Remove from oven and cut into wedges.
  11. Serve with additional fresh veggies or a green salad.

Notes

You can also add a little extra protein by mixing in some cooked ham or sausage. Feel free to substitute the veggies by adding in summer squash, peppers, tomatoes, whatever you have on hand. Goes great with a green salad and a glass of white wine if you're in the mood!

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Moussaka and Memories of Greece

Greek Moussaka

Classic Greek Moussaka is one of the most popular Greek dishes, and a staple “comfort food” and main course meal in Greece (as Lasagna is in Italy). This tasty Greek dish is a culinary delight to those who sample it for the first time, and I experienced it when I went on a trip to the Greek Islands a few years ago for my birthday.

oia greece santorini

Some friends and I were in Santorini, a beautiful island in Greece in the Aegean Sea with pastel colors and gorgeous views, eating at a restaurant in Oia called Pelekanos, nestled up in the hills overlooking the sea.

Pelekanos

The sun was setting, the relaxing music was playing softly in the background and the atmosphere was just perfect. The waiters graciously came over and attended to our every need, and made our dinner a spectacular night with their attention to detail not only in the food and wine, but our dining experience overall.

waiter

The table was elegantly set, with fine china, white tablecloths, crystal glasses and silverware with beautiful flowers as a centerpiece. The waiters filled our glasses with water and wine, lit the candles on the table and gave us recommendations of the specials and enlightened us on some of their popular Greek dishes on the menu.

Fava Bean Dip

As we joyously dined, they quickly cleared our plates when we were finished eating, filled our glasses when they were half full, and stood by the table a few feet away with a watchful, attentive eye, to let us know they were on stand by for service, but just far enough away to not be obtrusive on our dining experience.

table setting

They always had a smile on their faces and let us stay at the table long enough to enjoy our dinner, engage in great conversation, take photos of our food and engage in the gorgeous bright red sunset that was going down over the ocean as we sat and viewed it in awe. I felt like I was sitting in a little piece of heaven up there and never wanted to leave.

Sunset

One of the most delicious dishes I ever tasted was the Moussaka, which I ordered that night. It was a perfect mixture of spicy meat at the bottom, layered with potatoes and tender eggplant, and tons of béchamel and gooey cheese on top. The vegetables were steaming as I dug into this gorgeous meat and vegetable pie – my mouth watered at the sight and smell of it. I became so obsessed with this luscious Greek dish that I decided I needed to make it for my big Greek birthday party when I got home from vacation.

moussaka

Moussaka can be made in many variations, but the classic recipe uses layers of eggplant, potatoes, a spicy meat and tomato sauce with a touch of cinnamon and a rich and delicious béchamel sauce and bubbly kefalotyri cheese on top. Other variations are Moussaka with zucchini or artichokes instead of eggplant, ground lamb instead of ground beef, or vegetarian-style with zucchini, eggplant and potatoes without the meat. Either way you make it, with its warm and rich flavors and gooey cheese you’ll be hooked.

I made this recipe with zucchini and potatoes, and combined ground lamb with ground beef together. The combination of all the spices from the meat and seasonings soak into the vegetables and once you layer some creamy béchamel and gooey cheese on top, you’ve got yourself a delicious heartwarming dish. Be careful to pat dry the vegetables though before layering in the baking dish, as you don’t want the liquids to make the Moussaka too watery as they are cooked down in the oven.

You’ll need a lot of time and kitchen space to make this dish, and if you’re cooking for a crowd, you’ll be safe to double the recipe and make two large rectangular baking dishes of it, as it won’t last long. The flavors in this dish really improve if you 
make it a day ahead. It’s also a very filling dish, so you may want to serve it as the main course, and accompany it with a Greek Salad, some Stuffed Grape Leaves and Tzaziki for a light side dish along with some Garlic Lemon Hummus and grilled pita. Serve with a red Greek wine and a shot of Ouzo as an aperitif.

Oia Santorini
Oia Santorini

Moussaka and Memories of Greece

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 6-8

Ingredients

  • Zucchini/Eggplant Potato Mixture:
  • 1/2 cup Greek olive oil
  • 3 large zucchini (or eggplants), sliced
  • 3 large potatoes, sliced
  • Meat Sauce:
  • 3 onions, chopped fine
  • 4 cloves or garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground lamb or beef
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup red Greek wine
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Bechamel Sauce:
  • 1/4 pound butter
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 quart of whole milk
  • 4 eggs; beaten until frothy
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Zucchini/Eggplant Potato Mixture:
  2. Cut the zucchini/eggplant and potatoes into slices about 1/2 inch thick. If using eggplant instead of zucchini, peel the eggplant first. Brown the vegetables quickly in 1/4 cup of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until lightly golden brown, transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside.
  3. Meat Sauce:
  4. Heat the remaining ¼ cup of oil in the same skillet and cook the onions until they are?golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the ground meat, tomato paste, cinnamon, cayenne, and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Pour off excess fat through a strainer and return meat mixture to the pan. Then add the wine, cooking until almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato puree to the meat mixture and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer over low heat;?stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. Stir in the parsley and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Remove the?mixture from heat.
  6. Make the Bechamel Sauce:
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  8. Make the white sauce by melting the butter?and blending in the flour, stirring with a wire whisk until smooth. Meanwhile, bring the milk to a boil and add it gradually to the butter-flour mixture,? stirring constantly. When the mixture is thickened and smooth, remove ?it from the heat. Cook slightly and stir in the beaten eggs, nutmeg, lemon zest and ricotta.
  9. Assemble the casserole:
  10. Grease an 11x16-inch baking dish or casserole dish and sprinkle the bottom lightly with?breadcrumbs.
  11. Arrange alternate layers of the zucchini/eggplant and potatoes and meat sauce?in the pan, sprinkling each layer with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
  12. Pour the bechamel sauce over the top and sprinkle some additional Parmesan cheese on top. Bake 1 hour, or until top is golden.
  13. Remove from the oven and cool 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
  14. Top with additional chopped fresh parsley. Cut into squares and serve.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2015/04/06/moussaka-and-memories-of-greece/

  • Want to meet purveyors who are making a difference with their customers? Check out BonAppetit.com’s “Out of the Kitchen”, an ongoing exploration of the relationships that build and sustain the food industry. See how hyper-local food markets operate and how their focus on quality and service keep customers coming back for more.

 

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Superfoods Recipes for a Healthy New Year

Once the holidays are over, it’s time for a break from all the super rich food and cocktails and detox with some healthy recipes made with some of my favorite superfoods for a fresh start to a healthy New Year!

What’s all the fuss over superfoods about? They help step up your immunity, boost energy, slow down aging, lift your spirits, improve circulation, detox, improve sleep, and they have healing benefits too. And they just make you feel better and healthier all around. Colorful fruits and vegetables possess tons of vitamins and minerals – start ‘eating the rainbow’, and you’re off to a healthy start.

Veggie Bean Soup

The best way to get your fix of Superfoods is to make a big pot of veggie soup in the middle of winter, not only for it’s warming properties, but also because soup gives a big dose of healthy vegetables that boost the immune system, as well as detox and cleanse the body with its healthy ingredients, antibacterial properties, vitamins and minerals.

Simmer Soup KitchenAid Stockpot

I’ve created a super healthy soup recipe that I made with my KitchenAid 11-cup Food Processor, that is so convenient to chop, grate and shred all those lovely veggies. Then I just threw them all in my KitchenAid 8-Quart Stainless Steel Stockpot (part of the Stainless Steel 8-piece set that I just got!) to make a delicious and heartwarming Vegetable and Bean Soup. The Stockpot is great because it heats up fast on the stovetop to sauté all the veggies and seasonings and it has etched measurement markings inside the pot that make it easy to measure all the liquids for the soup.

Soup_Ingredients

My soup is full of onions, garlic and chicken stock, which all help build the immunity system and keep the colds away. It also has tons of fresh veggies including zucchini, kale, carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and northern white beans topped with grated Parmesan cheese and extra virgin olive oil and some crusty whole wheat bread for dipping.

Kiwi Apple Berry Blast Smoothie

The New Year is also a great time to cleanse and detox by eating lots of healthy Superfood fruits! I love all berries that are full of antioxidants, with plenty of vitamins for a super boost in the morning.

Smoothie_Ingredients

I’ve created a delicious Kiwi Apple Berry Blast Smoothie recipe made with kiwi, apples, vanilla greek yogurt, almond milk, blueberries, acai berry puree, honey, lemon zest, flax seed and raw almonds.

Fruit and Almonds KitchenAid Diamond Blender

I simply threw all the ingredients into my powerhouse KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond Blender with 5 different settings that does all the stirring, mixing, blending, pureeing and heavy lifting for me.And the smoothie is a healthy breakfast or snack, giving a big boost of protein and energy from the yogurt, almond milk, flax seeds and almonds; antioxidants from the berries and honey; and betacarotene, vitamin E and C from the kiwi fruit and lemon zest.

Click here to read the full post on the Kitchenthusiast blog by KitchenAid for more photos and recipes!

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Chicken Zucchini Wild Mushroom Farro Bake

Chicken Zucchini Wild Mushroom Farro

 

Fall is here and all of a sudden the craving sets in – Comfort. Food. I love chicken casseroles with veggies and pasta and all that naughty creamy goodness. But I’ve been trying to cut down on sugar and white carbs lately so I thought I would make a healthier version of a chicken casserole to keep it light but satisfy my craving for a baked pot of goodness.

Chicken Zucchini Wild Mushroom Farro

I used an Italian Farro that I had on hand with Porcini mushrooms, and mixed in some sautéed zucchini, garlic and minced onions with a lovely Basil olive oil I have from 7Barrels.com that gives a fresh, herby flavor to go with the nuttiness of the farro. Farro is an organic semi-pearled whole grain that cooks easily and is great in place of white rice or pasta in casseroles. The good news is it’s high in protein and fiber and also low gluten and has a low glycemic index too (plus it’s super tasty too!).

Toasted Farro

First I sautéed some garlic and dried onion in the olive oil and then added the farro to toast it slightly to bring out the nutty warm flavors before adding the water and Sazon seasoning to cook the farro until plump and slightly chewy.

Sauteed Zucchini

Then I sautéed the zucchini with more Basil olive oil and garlic until it was lightly browned.

Seasoned Chicken Breast

Next I sautéed some seasoned chicken breast in brown butter, and mixed the farro and zucchini mixture together with some grated Parmesan cheese.

Prepare the Casserole

After the chicken was lightly browned, I topped the farro and zucchini with the chicken breasts and drizzled a little bit of the brown butter on top and popped it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the casserole was baked through.

Chicken Zucchini Wild Mushroom Farro

For finishing touches, I sprinkled some dried thyme, Wild Mushroom crystal sea salt, and some red pepper flakes on top.

Chicken Zucchini Wild Mushroom Farro

The flavors are absolutely spectacular and it’s a healthy alternative to fat-laden creamy casseroles we’re use to. All it needs is a lovely dry white Italian wine (like a Pinot Grigio) to go with it and you’ve got a happy, Fall day. Enjoy.

Chicken Zucchini Wild Mushroom Farro Bake

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Porcini Mushroom Farro:
  • 1 tablespoon Basil Olive Oil (7 Barrels)
  • ½ tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced dried onion
  • 1 9.1 oz package Tuscan Fields® Farro Ai Funghi
  • 1 small packet of Sazon seasoning
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
  • Sautéed Zucchini:
  • 2 large zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise and cut into half moons
  • 2 tablespoons Basil Olive Oil (7Barrels)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Sautéed chicken:
  • 3 large chicken breasts (approx. 1.75-2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt or poultry seasoning (Instant Gourmet Original)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Wild Mushroom crystal sea salt flakes (FalkSalt), for garnish
  • ½ tablespoon dried thyme, for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Mushroom Farro:
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and sauté the minced garlic for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add the minced dried onion and farro, and sauté for another 3-5 minutes to toast the farro.
  4. Add water and seasonings and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook farro for about 18-20 minutes until farro is plump and slightly chewy.
  5. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Prepare the Zucchini:
  7. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat and sauté garlic for one minute (be careful not to burn). Add zucchini and sauté for another 5-7 minutes until soft and lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
  8. Saute the Chicken:
  9. Thoroughly wash and pat dry chicken breasts, rub seasoning well on both sides of the chicken.
  10. Reheat the large sauté pan over medium high heat, add butter and let melt and get slightly brown.
  11. Add chicken breasts and cook for approximately 4-5 minutes total, turning once, until chicken is lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
  12. Prepare the casserole:
  13. Place the cooked farro and zucchini in a ceramic casserole. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese into the mixture and stir together well.
  14. Arrange the chicken breasts on top of the farro-zucchini-Parmesan mixture and drizzle some of the browned butter on top.
  15. Bake the casserole at 350 degrees uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes until chicken is no longer pink and cooked through.
  16. Garnish with Wild Mushroom crystal sea salt, dried thyme and red pepper flakes, and additional grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve hot, with a green salad and a light, dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2014/10/16/chicken-zucchini-wild-mushroom-farro-bake/

Chicken Zucchini Wild Mushroom Farro

 

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Going Low-Carb & Healthy for Spring! Grilled Parmesan Zucchini Beef Burgers & Sauteed Lemon Garlic Squash

Spring Flowers in Bloom
Spring Flowers in Bloom

Well, Spring is FINALLY here and the weather in NYC has been absolutely gorgeous this past week. I get so motivated when the weather warms up to go walking in the park, get moving around town, and most of all start eating healthy and maybe drop a few pounds or two to get ready for Summer. Plus, with all the gorgeous fresh fruits and veggies at the farmers markets – it’s hard to resist dreaming up some healthy, light recipes to get excited about making.

I know what you’re probably thinking – sometimes “low-carb diet” is a taboo word. And I’ve tried a few of them that have worked in the past (Atkins and South Beach Diet), but once I started eating normal again, the pounds just came back. So I’m making over my diet for the long term with foods that are good carbs – fresh green non-starchy veggies, low-glycemic fruits like berries and melon and citrus, light dairy including cheese and Greek yogurt, and healthy lean proteins across the board with omega3-enriched eggs, turkey, chicken, fish, beef, pork and seafood. My main goal is to cut out sugar and refined carbs like flour, pasta, bread, crackers, processed foods. Oh, the sugar cravings start kicking in the first few days, but once I get through the first week – it’s amazing how those cravings just go away. And my palate changes to crave all the good, healthy foods that actually keep me full and keep those cravings at bay. Yes, I will miss chocolate dearly. And crackers, and bread and pasta. But at the end of the day, once I start eating healthy low-carb, I actually FEEL better. And SLEEP better. And my allergies and body aches GO AWAY.

I’m not talking about living on cheeseburgers, bacon and eggs my whole life. Just cutting down on the bad carbs that make me cranky. And tired. And have mood swings and blood sugar swings. It’s crazy how good I feel and hey, it doesn’t hurt to lose a few pounds along the way. So here goes – Day 1 of my Get Into Shape Low-Carb, Feel Good Diet for Spring. Let’s see if I can keep this going for a few weeks – who knows. I might not miss that chocolate as much as I think I will. And if I feel like cheating? Well a square of dark chocolate here and there (or a glass of wine!) might just have to happen. And I won’t feel guilty one bit. Especially when I’m feeling amazing in my bikini on the beach this summer 🙂

Parmesan Zucchini Burgers & Sauteed Lemon Garlic Zucchini
Parmesan Zucchini Burgers & Sauteed Lemon Garlic Zucchini

I whipped up this tasty recipe today for some grilled Parmesan Zucchini Beef Burgers & Sauteed Lemon Garlic Squash. The burgers are made with lean beef (but you can substitute ground chicken or turkey if you like), finely minced zucchini, egg, grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes, then grilled to perfection, served over an arugula salad with a light vinaigrette dressing. I sauteed the zucchini and yellow squash in a lemon-infused olive oil, with some crushed garlic cloves, a pinch of dill and red pepper flakes, and that’s it! Light, healthy, filling and totally delicious. I think I could do this all the time. Enjoy! (and wish me luck!)

Going Low-Carb & Healthy for Spring! Grilled Parmesan Zucchini Beef Burgers & Sauteed Lemon Garlic Squash

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6

Ingredients

  • Burgers:
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup zucchini, diced fine
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste (about 6 grinds for me)
  • Arugula, dressed with a light vinaigrette, for serving
  • -----
  • Zucchini Squash:
  • 2 tablespoons lemon-infused olive oil
  • 2 small-medium zucchini, sliced and halved
  • 1 small-medium yellow squash, sliced and halved
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dill (dried or fresh)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (a few grinds is good, but adjust to taste)

Instructions

  1. Heat a grill over medium-high heat.
  2. Place all the burger ingredients into a large bowl and mix together well with hands, make 4-6 burger patties.
  3. Grill burgers for 4-6 minutes (depending on how well done you like them).
  4. Add a slice of melted provolone cheese on top and some hot sauce, if desired.
  5. Serve burgers over arugula salad dressed in a light vinaigrette dressing.
  6. -----
  7. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  8. Slice zucchini into small moon-shaped slices, peel and smash garlic.
  9. Saute zucchini and squash and garlic cloves for about 5-7 minutes until soft and cooked through (but not mushy).
  10. Add red pepper flakes, dill, sea salt and pepper, stir together.
  11. Serve immediately with burgers and arugula salad.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2014/04/14/going-low-carb-spring-grilled-parmesan-zucchini-beef-burgers-sauteed-lemon-garlic-squash/

Parmesan Zucchini Burgers & Sauteed Lemon Garlic Zucchini Squash
Parmesan Zucchini Burgers & Sauteed Lemon Garlic Zucchini Squash

 

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Healthy Homestyle Meatloaf w/ Ancho Chile-Red Pepper Glaze :: Wild Mushroom Risotto

Homestyle Meatloaf with Ancho Chile-Red Pepper Glaze
Homestyle Meatloaf with Ancho Chile-Red Pepper Glaze

OK, so I know Meatloaf is one of those dishes we’re all a little bored of by now. Not so glamorous or gourmet, and usually a quick go-to dish when we have nothing else in the fridge and want to make an easy dinner with a few ingredients on hand. Well that was the case last weekend, so I thought – how can I jazz this meatloaf up a bit and make it a little healthier to boot?

Kickin' Ketchup
Kickin’ Ketchup

I have some samples of Kickin’ Ketchup in my pantry that I’ve been meaning to try – it’s a spicy ketchup made out in California with a touch of heat and smooth sweetness.  I thought I would experiment making a spicy concoction made with the ketchup and some ancho chile powder and red pepper jelly (try this one or make your own) – perfect for a Meatloaf glaze or dipping sauce for homemade cocktail meatballs. The balance of the smoky chile powder mixed with the spicy heat of the ketchup and sweet heat of the red pepper jelly is a harmonious combination and I’m lovin’ it. For the meatloaf, I used a combination of ground beef, ground pork and ground veal – the holy grail for a savory juicy meatloaf. I added onions and garlic, some minced zucchini,  a dollop of Kickin’ Ketchup and a dash of ancho chile powder along with oatmeal substituted for regular breadcrumbs. I made some Wild Mushroom Risotto on the side, but this would be perfect with some roasted carrots, sauteed zucchini or mashed potatoes to accompany. Dig in!

Healthy Homestyle Meatloaf w/ Ancho Chile-Red Pepper Glaze

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 4-6

Ingredients

  • HEALTHY HOMESTYLE MEATLOAF
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium zucchini, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 pounds meatloaf mix (ground beef, veal and pork)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Kickin' Ketchup (or use regular ketchup and add some cayenne)
  • 1/4 cup instant or steel-cut oats
  • ANCHO CHILE-RED PEPPER GLAZE
  • 1/4 cup Kickin' Ketchup
  • 4 tablespoons Red Pepper Jelly
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. HEALTHY HOMESTYLE MEATLOAF
  2. Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add onions and zucchini and cook for about 8 minutes, until tender. Add minced garlic and saute for another minute or two. Remove cooked vegetables from the pan into a small bowl, let cool completely and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a ceramic or glass rectangular baking dish with no-stick cooking oil spray.
  4. Whisk eggs together in a large mixing bowl, add the cooled cooked veggies, meat, spices, ketchup and oats and mix together thoroughly and gently with your hands.
  5. Take the meatloaf mixture and press together into one large or two small loaves into the baking dish.
  6. Make the Ancho Chile-Red Pepper Glaze per instructions below, and brush over entire meatloaf, saving some extra glaze for serving.
  7. Bake for 1 hour up to 1 1/4 hours until a thermometer inserted in center reads 155 degrees F.
  8. Remove baked meatloaf from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.
  9. Slice and serve with additional glaze and a side of roasted veggies, mashed potatoes or mushroom risotto.
  10. ANCHO CHILE-RED PEPPER GLAZE
  11. Mix together ketchup, red pepper jelly, garlic salt and ancho chile powder and black pepper. Brush glaze on to meatloaf and save additional glaze for serving.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2013/11/17/healthy-homestyle-meatloaf-w-spicy-tomato-red-pepper-jelly-glaze/

Wild Mushroom Risotto
Wild Mushroom Risotto

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • Mushroom stock:
  • ½ lb. cremini mushrooms
  • ½ lb. white button mushrooms
  • ½ lb. shitake mushrooms
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • ½ c. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 oz. Madeira wine
  • Risotto:
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 shallots, finely minced
  • 4 c. Arborio rice
  • ¾ c. white wine
  • Mushroom stock (reserved)
  • 1 tbsp. minced chives
  • 1 tbsp. Italian parsley
  • ¼ c. grated Pecorino Romano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. To make the mushroom stock, wash and trim the stems of the fresh mushrooms. Reserve the stems and slice the mushroom caps for use later in the recipe. (Make sure to dust of the dirt first and don’t soak the mushrooms).
  2. Combine the chicken stock, stems, dried porcini mushrooms in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes over low heat. Strain through a cheesecloth and reserve the liquid for the risotto.
  3. Heat a large sauté pan and add 4 tbsp of butter. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until browned. Deglaze the Madeira and reduce until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Reserve the mushrooms. (Try to let the Madeira glaze sit, don’t stir).
  4. For the risotto, heat a wide pot or rondeau (flat bottom pot with tall sides) over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp butter. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir the mixture together to coat the rice with the shallots and butter.
  5. Add the white wine, lower the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated. Begin adding the mushroom stock, a large ladleful at a time. Continue to add the mushroom stock (slowly and continuously), stirring constantly until the rice is just cooked through and all the stock has been absorbed, about 20 mins. The rice should be slightly al dente but have a creamy consistency and not dry.
  6. Stir in the reserved mushrooms, the remaining tablespoon of butter, chives, and parsley. Top off the risotto with Pecorino Romano and season with salt and pepper to taste.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2013/11/17/healthy-homestyle-meatloaf-w-spicy-tomato-red-pepper-jelly-glaze/

Other Meatloaf Recipes you might enjoy:

Pioneer Woman’s Favorite Meatloaf

Saveur Meatloaf

Cooking Light Spicy Turkey Meatloaf with Ketchup Glaze

Iowa Girl Eats Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves

Ina Garten Meatloaf

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